Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Tipping Point ...

There's an interesting op-ed piece in the New York Times today about tipping in restaurants.

Thomas Keller has abolished tipping in his New York restaurant Per Se, instead opting for a service charge, a la the way of the Europeans. The piece doesn't offer the service charge's percentage, but I seem to remember everything in London was marked up 17 percent the last time I was there.

But I wondered: What if you want to give a server more?

Fifteen percent is an acceptable tip, but unless the service is truly crappy, I always tip more. Twenty percent is my usual minimum, and I've been known to leave 33 percent. The other day at lunch, the bill was $22 and change. Mom left our server $30. (I have mom's tipping gene, apparently.) She was nice, our server. We liked her. The food was fine. It came out when it was supposed to. But the tip was because she was really pleasant. And my water glass stayed full.

So the servers in Thomas Keller's place, while they'll be earning a decent buck under this new system, because I can only imagine the prices at a Thomas Keller restaurant (I once helped my cousin make an appetizer out of Keller's The French Laundry cookbook for our millennium dinner; it took two days -- seriously), could they earn more under the usual system?

I know some people tip well and others stiff their servers. I guess I always thought that it averaged out.

One of the blogs I check every day is www.waiterrant.net. Excellent stories of F&B insanity. I wonder what he thinks of this. I think I'll ask him.

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